Marquita LanierThree GenerationsLos Angeles, CAPhotos & Story by Lauri LevenfeldRetail by Izzy Be & Les Tout Petit
1. Who are you? What were you like as a child?
Marquita: Well, let’s just say I earned class clown in my high school yearbook. I’ve always been pretty silly and loved making people laugh. I get that from my mom for sure as she’s a low key stand up comedian. I excelled at anything creative and athletic. My parents being creative people themselves, always encouraged the arts. I never had to apologize for being an artist. It was valued in my home, and for that I’m eternally grateful. When I had interest from colleges for track and field, and chose to forgo them to pursue a career in the arts, they were fine with it. Even though I had potential scholarship opportunities, they encouraged me to make the decision that made the most sense for me at that time. I don’t think there are many parents that would be that understanding. I stayed local, got a BA in Communications and booked my first series regular role as an actress a month after graduation.
2. Describe your life’s work. For Hannah, what are your passions/ favorite things to do.
Pauline: I work at CBS/KCAL news as a makeup artist. I’ve been doing makeup for over 30 years. I love what I do because I love working with people and making them feel their best. I like to have fun, so people always leave my chair looking and feeling good. It’s my small way of giving back, I suppose. A makeup artist is like the bartender or hairdresser in that people often confide all kinds of things to me. If I can use those opportunities to uplift and speak life into their circumstances, I do. For me, it’s more than lashes and lip gloss, but luckily I’m good with that too.
Marquita: I’d have to say I was “called to create” and that’s played itself out in many ways over the years. I worked as an actress for over a decade doing a show called USA High, another called Malibu, CA, and tons of guest spots on different episodics. Once I had my kids, I took a break from that eventually falling in to my mom’s footsteps, working as a makeup artist for print ant TV. Most recently I’d call myself a “content creator”. I’ve been writing and producing. I created a female driven, comedic web series called “Work in Progress” with some of the most talented women in the business, and I am currently finishing up a script for a feature. I run a family blog that requires content of all kinds, written, photo, and video. However, my most important life’s work is being a wife to TJ and mom to Hannah and Zion. My kids are my masterpieces and by far the coolest things I’ve ever made.
Hannah: I love animals for sure and my favorite things to do are swimming, playing with my brother and friends, track and field, art, singing, dancing, and performing for others.
3. Creativity seems to flow from your family veins, tell us how this started and all the things you do together to express yourselves. Why is creativity so important?
Pauline: I’ve always been creative and artistic. As a kid I was always drawing and painting. I worked as a print and runway model for years and when that season was over it was a natural transition for me to use my artistic skill in another way where faces became my canvas. I went to school to learn all types of makeup from beauty to theater, and special effects but given my background, beauty was my passion and where I landed. Creativity was important for me as an outlet growing up and when all else failed it was a sure way to bond and have fun with my kids as they were growing up. Starting as a young mom, I never claimed to know it all but I knew how to create something out of anything and when I look at my son making music as a DJ or doing his work as an editor, and my daughter in all she does, I think it’s the best gift I could’ve given. My kids were never afraid to be creative. Our motto was always, “We can make that.” and we did! I now see it in the way they raise their kids. All of my grandchildren are extremely creative in different ways, and I’d like to think I played a part in that.
Marquita: It’s true. One of the best creations ever was when mom made me her own version of a Cabbage Patch kid out of old tights. It was awesome! Everyone had the Cabbage Patch Kid, including me but how many could say they had a “Collard Greens” Doll! Hilarious! Creativity is the lifeblood of our family, no doubt. It is how we all expressed ourselves growing up, and it’s largely how we express ourselves now in my own family. It’s no surprise that my husband is a wildly talented singer/songwriter. We recently shared an amazing day as a family, minus my son, working with Oprah Winfrey in a commercial for her new line of healthy side dishes. I’ve spent countless hours on many sets but this is one that’ll never be forgotten. Expressing creativity as a family is an extra sweet spot for me. Most all of my talents are creative in nature, so it’s in that place I feel divinely aligned. I don’t even know who I’d be if not an artist of some kind. Growing up, people thought I should be lawyer because I was very strong willed in my arguments about anything, but I came to that playing one on General Hospital.
Hannah: As a family we always act silly singing and dancing around the house. My mom does lots of arts and crafts with us. Sometimes Grandmom is there for that. I had a really fun day with mom and Grandmom acting like fashion designers and making clothes for my dolls out of old clothes and random fabric. We made really cool outfits. It was extra special because Grandmom told stories of doing the same thing with mommy when she was little.
4. What does it mean to be a woman today? What are the lessons you have passed to the next generation? Hannah, what have your Grandmom and mom taught you?
Pauline: I hope that I’ve passed down the skills that God gave us and the confidence to never let fear hold you back from anything. Something my granny passed down to me was “nothing beats a failure but a try.” Even if you try and don’t succeed there’s always a lesson learned in the try. I’ve found it’s always best to push through fear and take the chance because there’s no victory in complacency.
Marquita: Being a woman today means being anything you want to be, unapologetically whether it’s a CEO or stay at home mom. We live in a very exciting time where the sky truly is the limit. There are more ways than ever for creatives to make careers and find or create their lane. I love the idea of the mompreneur. Every day I see women changing the game and taking charge of their lives in different and exciting ways. I’m thrilled that my daughter could witness a women being so close to the presidency and know that it’s within reach. She’s a very strong little girl and fully believes she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to. She’s ALL about the girl power. I hope to preserve that spirit in her that’s so alive today. It’s so important for her to know how powerful she is as a young women and how to use her voice. Women are world changers, I’m proud to be a woman and to raise a young woman. My prayer for Hannah is that she’s better, smarter, stronger, braver than me in every way. She’s well on her way.
Hannah: Grandmom teaches me I can be anyone I want to be, she tells me almost every time she she’s me. Mommy teaches me everything because I’m homeschooled, lol, but she also teaches me how to be kind, generous, and brave. Oh, and Grandmom taught how to sew!
5. How did your blog Love the Laniers start? How does each family member fit into the mission?
Marquita: It started with me briefly having a personal blog that was mainly focused on my life as an actress/mom. While I definitely identified as an actress for many years, I just felt that bit of a transition taking place. It felt like a blog was the right platform, but if totally honest, the content didn’t truly represent the phase I had moved in to. After discussing it with the the hubs, it was clear that it was to be a family pursuit we were all involved in. The idea is to build a platform
as a family to house all of our creative ventures and hopefully inspire a bit along with way. You can find the web series “Work in Progress” there for now. There’s written video and photo content, that’s very family focused, just a bit of a window into us as a family. The things we do and how we go about life. TJ writes occasionally on marriage and parenthood from a male perspective and the kids do these great “What We Think” videos where they review places, products and movies. Moving forward we have plans of producing content focused on TJ’s music and cultural diversity.
6. Who are your icons/ or the people you admire?
Marquita: First and foremost my parents. They have always been my biggest cheerleaders and support system. They are two of the most creative people I know and I’m very much a product of that creativity. Professionally there are those like Oprah, Ava Dunernay and Regina King for all that they’ve accomplished as a film makers, directors and woman of color. Directing is the next big goal I’m setting for myself, and I appreciate those that are blazing the trail ahead of me. But there are so many other women that inspired me daily like my best friends who are building their empires and raising children. as well as the women I’ve grown to know through the world of blogging. They’re everyday women that share their hearts, offer prayer, encouragement, and support. I think it’s a beautiful thing.
Hannah: I look up to my mom most, she’s the most sweet and helpful person. I think the singer Alessia Cara is great because of how she’s always empowering girls through kindness. She tells girls to be strong and be who they are no matter what. I also love Zendaya. She’s biracial just like me, is such a great actress and stands up and equality for all people. I love to see smart, strong girls who aren’t afraid to say what’s right. It inspires me to do the same.
7. Family is first in everything you do, why is this so important?
Pauline: It all starts and ends with family. They are everything to me, everything.
Marquita: Family is the home base. If something doesn’t work for the family, than it doesn’t work, period. For us, it has to be seen through that lens. There’s nothing worth sacrificing the health of our family in any way, it’s always the top priority.
8. Tell us about your biggest challenge and how you overcame it?
Marquita: I lean quite a bit on faith to get through most any challenge. In most recent years I’d have to say, homeschooling while juggling a creative career has been my biggest. I was literally the one with the “good luck with that” attitude when women said they homeschooled their kids. Then as life would have it, the joke’s now on me, and here I am. It’s not easy by any stretch. There are for sure, those days I feel like I’m definitely ruining them, but then I hear them quote Martin Luther King, or point out a Picasso, and I take a deep breath, say another prayer, and keep it crackin’. Hannah received an award at the start of the year for academic achievement, and my 2nd grader is doing 4th grade math so something’s working. It’s extremely rewarding and what’s right for our family, in this season. It affords us wonderful freedoms and allows for hands on learning on the go. Everything becomes a conscious learning opportunity. Baking becomes math and science, vacations become field trips…it’s really wonderful. I’m not sure we’ll be homeschoolers forever, but for now, it’s working beautifully. Overcoming is a day by day thing and I do it by prayer, giving myself some grace, utilizing the resources available, and having a supportive group of others in the trenches.
9. How do you define love?
Pauline: I define love as a God given gift. Family is priority and the love of my family is what keeps me going and strong. You can’t live without love and I’m blessed to have it abundantly from family, friends, and colleagues.
Hannah: Love is my middle name and to me it means to be kind, generous, and always be there for others, which is the kind of person I always try to be. It wouldn’t be so good to have that be my name and not be that, so I have to live up to it.
10. What’s next for The Laniers?
Marquita: The Laniers are going to keep creating, growing the blog. We’ve got some really exciting projects we want to produce as a family. I’ll keep writing. My husband is making music again and the kids will continue to be a exploring life life through both creative and athletic outlets.
Pauline: Well, I’m not a Lanier, but I’ll answer. I just plan to keep cracking jokes and painting face. I’ve also been working on a book based on my years working in this industry. You can’t do this for as long as I have, work alongside every famous person under the sun and not come out of it with some really entertaining stories. So the plan is to make that happen, keep putting smiles on faces, and spending plenty of quality time with my grandchildren.
Hannah: I’m going to keep learning, growing, and giving as best I can. I have plenty of goals and my plan is to knock them out one by one. Hopefully I’ll be working more in acting, commercials and print. I’m really enjoying that, but I guess it’s hard not to when your first job is eating mashed potatoes with Oprah.